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City v. Villa: City's Key Players

Here we take a look at who could be City's X-Factors against the relegation threatened Villans.

Manchester City players celebrate after James Collins of West Ham (not pictured) scored an own goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Manchester, England.
Manchester City players celebrate after James Collins of West Ham (not pictured) scored an own goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Manchester, England.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

With City having beaten the Hammers last weekend, City are beginning to challenge for second place. This is quite rational given that Manchester United and Arsenal face difficult fixtures on the weekend. Manchester United has a tough match away at Everton, a great team when playing at home, while Arsenal face off against Mourinho and Chelsea at The Emirates. If City win, and both United and the Gunners slump to defeats, Man City would be in second place. Sure, Arsenal do have a game in hand, but the point is that City would now have extra motivation knowing that second place can still be obtained. City, at the moment, still has control of its destiny, but only if Pellegrini and the players play their cards right. Up next is Villa, a team currently on song after upsetting Liverpool to reach the FA Cup Final and City will need some big contributions from key players:

Yaya Touré: The last five days have been marked by constant speculation about the Ivorian powerhouse. Their are allegations of being unhappy at the club under Pellegrini, and his agent Dimitri Seluk further fanned the flames of speculation by saying that Manuel Pellegrini is a "weak manager." With all of this speculation and criticism by Yaya Touré's agent, it is time for him to justify that he belongs at the club. He is a big and important player for the club, but his latest performances have not been up to scratch. He must step up and play a great game for City against Villa to prove to his critics that he is fully committed to City. If Touré can manage to have a good game, City would be a sure bet to win the midfield battle against Fabian Delph.

Jesus Navas: After West Ham's match and a truly great showing by Navas, it looks like he could become a player that defines the rest of the season for City. He had a great showing against the Hammers and now he looks set to potentially keep a role in the starting XI. Navas will have to take a bigger role as the dynamic winger that opens play for the forward line of Agüero and even Džeko if he is to uphold his starting place. One asset that is particularly beneficial for City is his speed. He is quite fast and so this could lead to more attacks down the wings. Though not better technically than David Silva, he offers quick pace that could be useful for exploiting Villa's backline.

Eliaquim Mangala: With Vincent Kompany still out due to a groin injury, it is time for Eliaquim Mangala to step up for City. The French defender has still not quite demonstrated the form that saw him move from Porto to City. While he has failed to keep a consistent place in the starting XI, it is now the time to prove that he should be the starting XI for the rest of the season and next season. With current City loanees, Jason Denayer and Karim Rekik having good seasons at Celtic and PSV, respectively, his time is running out to make an impression on Pellegrini, who may stay on for next season if City finish second and no respectable replacement is found. This mean that Mangala could roam at 3rd or 4th center back if Denayer and Rekik are brought back to the club and if Pellegrini keeps his faith on Demichelis. Thus, Mangala should begin his quest for starting XI by producing an assertive defensive display on Saturday against Villa.